Heat beat Toronto Raptors 103-91 to even series at three wins apiece | iNFOnews

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Heat beat Toronto Raptors 103-91 to even series at three wins apiece

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade (3) collides with Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry (7) as he makes a move to the basket during the first half of Game 6 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals, Friday, May 13, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
May 13, 2016 - 9:25 PM

MIAMI - The Toronto Raptors have one game left in the Eastern Conference semifinals — to either make history, or see their season come to an end.

Kyle Lowry had 36 points, while DeMar DeRozan battled through a thumb injury to add 23, but they got little help from their teammates as the Miami Heat beat Toronto 103-91 to even their NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series at three wins apiece.

To Raptors coach Dwane Casey, it was a huge opportunity lost.

"We came here to try to win the game, we didn't come here with a seven-game series in mind," Casey said. "It's been a great series, they're a championship calibre team. . . but we came here to try to win the game. We weren't coming in wanting a Game 7."

Bismack Biyombo grabbed 13 rebounds for the Raptors, who had just their two all-stars score in double-digits.

And while Casey has hammered home "defence first" all season long, that message was somehow lost on his team Friday, as the Raptors allowed Goran Dragic to drive to rim at will for 30 points. Dwyane Wade added 22.

"It is just our one-on-one defence," said DeRozan. "We have to buckle down and not rely on help so much. Everyone has to man up and do their job."

The Raptors, who are now 1-5 in road closeout chances, were keen to end this series in Miami and avoid another game against the Heat in what's already been their longest post-season in franchise history. Awaiting the winner is a well-rested Cleveland team, which dispatched Detroit in four straight before sweeping Atlanta in the second round.

But the Heat dominated for most of the night, and when Dragic drilled a three-pointer late in the third quarter, it put Miami up by 13 points. The Heat took an 82-72 advantage into the fourth.

Lowry scored eight straight points to pull Toronto to within six with 8:45 to play, but the all-star guard also picked up his fifth foul two minutes later, and six quick points from Wade had the Heat back up by 12. Two Lowry free throws had the Raptors within eight before Joe Johnson threw up a three-point dagger with 2:15 to play, essentially spelling the end for Toronto.

The Raptors find themselves in the same situation as the opening round of the playoffs against Indiana — a must-win Game 7 back home Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.

"Every series is different but I guess we like to play with our backs against the wall so to speak, I don't know why," Cory Joseph said.

The Raptors allowed the Heat to shoot 48 per cent, while shooting 42 per cent themselves.

Lowry and DeRozan, who have struggled mightily at times through the post-season, were solid all night, but the all-stars scoffed at their scoring in a sombre post-game press conference.

"It means nothing," DeRozan said. "If we score 10 each and everyone else does something, collectively that's fine."

No-one else did much Friday however; the Raptors bench combined for 15 points.

Injuries have ravaged both teams. DeRozan spent every timeout having his thumb wrapped in a red shoelace by the team's sport science guru Alex McKechnie. DeMarre Carroll played with his left wrist taped — hidden under a wristband — after injuring it on Wednesday night.

The Raptors were already without Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) for the series, while the Heat is missing Hassan Whiteside.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talked about the excitement of the back-and-forth series that saw three of the first four games go to overtime, saying "It's an absolute privilege" to be a part of.

"I've said it again to our guys, to be in a competitive series against an opponent like we're facing right now," Spoelstra said. "It's a darn good opponent that's challenging us, that's testing us, that's pushing us, making us uncomfortable."

A couple hundred Toronto fans made the trip south hoping to see the Raptors make history. The American Airlines Arena was otherwise a sea of white, including one fan who held up a "We The South" sign.

The Raptors, who won a franchise-best 56 games in the regular season, are playing in the conference semifinals for just the second time in the team's 21-year history. They made the conference semifinals in 2001 and were a Vince Carter miss away from beating Philadelphia and advancing to the conference final.

Lowry and DeRozan combined for 13 points in an ugly first quarter. The two teams made just 15-of-41 shots and neither squad led by more than three points. The Heat took a 21-20 lead into the second.

Josh Richardson drilled a three midway through the second that put the Heat up by nine, and they took a 53-44 advantage into the locker-room at halftime.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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